novac - kune.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ /ds

German exports were flat in April and imports fell, adding to the patchy picture that has emerged of Europe's biggest economy at the start of the second quarter. 

Monthly exports were unchanged in April after posting a solid 1.9-per-cent gain in March and a 1.4-per-cent rise in February, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said Thursday, as demand declined from China and the world's leading emerging economies.

The data also raised fresh worries about the outlook for German domestic demand, with imports posting their second consecutive monthly fall in April.

Imports slipped by a surprise 0.2 per cent in April after contracting by 2.3 per cent in March, Destatis said. Imports were unchanged in February.

Analysts had predicted a 0.8-per-cent drop in monthly exports in April and 1.3-per-cent rise in imports.  

Exports, however, were 3.8-per-cent higher in April compared with the same month last year, while yearly imports were unchanged, Destatis said.

Many economists expect the German economy to slow in the months ahead after expanding by 0.7 per cent in the first quarter compared with the final quarter of 2015, when it grew by 0.3 per cent.

"While we remain optimistic with regards to the labour market, we think that the impetus from low oil prices to real incomes is fading," Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients this month. Deutsche cut its second quarter projections from 0.3 per cent to 0.1 per cent.

The slide in imports and the unchanged figure for exports resulted in Germany recording a record trade surplus of 24 billion euros (27.3 billion dollars) in April. This is the highest amount since records began in 1990 following German unification.

The release of the latest trade data followed the publication of a slew of key German data, which have sent out often conflicting signals about the current state of the nation's economy.

While German factory orders fell sharply in April on the back of a slump in foreign demand, industrial production rebounded as the output of investment equipment reported a strong gain. 

German business confidence climbed more than expected in May and a survey of consumer confidence edged higher.

The unemployment rate also recorded a bigger-than-forecast drop in May with the jobless rate falling to a more-than 25-year low of 6.1 per cent.

But monthly retail sales declined unexpectedly in April, falling by 0.9 per cent from March to record their second consecutive decline.

"After a strong growth performance in the first quarter on the back of strong consumption and construction, all hard data for April was weaker than in the first quarter, and gross domestic product growth looks set for a slowdown," said ING Bank economist Carsten Brzeski.

The German central bank, the Bundesbank, last week lowered its growth outlook for Germany to 1.7 per cent this year compared with its December forecast of 1.8 per cent.

Growth in Germany should then drop back to 1.4 per cent in 2017 down from its previous forecast of 1.7 per cent, the Bundesbank said.

Latest news

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" appear in Vukovar

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" with the image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), appeared at bus stations along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar on Friday.

Turkish ruling party launches campaign for constitutional changes

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Saturday formally launched its campaign for the upcoming referendum on core constitutional changes set to empower the presidency, with a mass rally at a sports arena in Ankara.

Top US general visits Syrian Kurds with focus on al-Raqqa campaign

A top US general visited Syrian Kurdish forces and their allies in northern Syria this week, amid signs the US military was increasing its support for anti-Islamic State forces, despite risks that such a move could anger neighbouring Turkey. 

Germany expects long-term migration growth after revising estimates

Net migration to Germany is expected to be 200,000 annually in the coming years, according to a news report to be published Sunday.

Malaysian police seek to reassure public over VX nerve agent

Malaysian police said on Saturday they would do everything possible to ensure there was no risk to the public from the lethal VX nerve agent used to kill Kim Jong Nam in the country's main international airport.

Cretu says Croatia must accelerate apsorbtion of European funds

The Commissioner also said that for the 2014-2020 period, Croatia would have twice the amount from the previous period at its disposal -- a total of EUR 10.67 billion.

Germany's Schulz accepts only 'small' role in party's poll boost

The main rival to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in this year's elections has said the boost in opinion polls for his Social Democrats (SPD) is not mainly down to him personally.

Coordinated suicide attacks kill over 40 in Syria’s Homs

Forty-two security personnel were killed Saturday in synchronized attacks targeting government security facilities in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group said, with up to six suicide bombers reported to be involved.

Bangladesh PM calls for 'huge fund' to renovate factories

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged international clothing brands to help factory owners overhaul their facilities.

EC adopts delegated act on Teran, despite Slovenia's opposition

The European Commission has, despite Slovenia's opposition, adopted a delegated act whereby Croatian winemakers in Istria would be enabled to continue selling their wine made from the Teran grape variety under the name "Croatian Istria - Teran", and the act could be published early next week, the Slovenian news agency STA reported on Friday.

Filipinos mark 1986 mass uprising amid fears of new 'dictatorship'

Thousands of protesters on Saturday marked a 1986 mass uprising that ousted late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, amid fears of a crackdown against political opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Rocket attack leave 2 students dead in eastern Afghanistan

At least two students were killed when a rocket fired by Taliban militants hit a school in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province on Saturday morning, local authorities said.